Sunday, January 20, 2013

The post where I catch up seven months..oops!

Here's something about me:

I love starting new things and I am notorious for giving things up.

That's not the case for blogging...I really just took a little break and lost my momentum.  Now, it's October January and I have the whole beginning half of the school year to catch up on...oops! goes:

For the 2012-2013 school year Sofia will be in first grade and Maya will be in "pre-K 3."  I actually had her signed up for preschool at the same school Sofia attended for preschool.  We withdrew her from that school the week before it started because I realized that we would be spending so much of the school week driving her to and from preschool.  It was a hard decision for me because we really love the preschool AND I felt really bad that Maya would not have the same opportunities that Sofia had.

So, you would think that because this was my second year homeschooling that I would be free from the  first year jitters that I suffered last year...right?  I wish that were the truth but ONCE AGAIN, I panicked and actually called the catholic uniform supplier in the area to see if they had one girls size small uniform left "just in case."

Fortunately for our family, I didn't buy that uniform and we are happily almost 1/2 way through our school year.

Once again we are using Sonlight for our core.  We are currently using Core B and I'm finding the history literature quite advanced, but Sofia seems to like it.  I secretly wish that I had held out and did Core A this year and saved Core B for next year...but there's no holding back a new homeschooling I will live and learn!

What IS new this year is that in New York state, we have to start reporting once our child has turned 6. We have to submit an IHIP (Individualized home instruction plan) and quarterlies as well as a letter of intent to homeschool.  Here is a sample of Sofia's IHIP with the curriculum listed:

Sofia will be engaging in various aspects of reading including but not limited to reading aloud and silent reading using various leveled readers, short stories, chapter books and poetry.  This year she will focus on reading strategies, comprehension activities and listening skills.  She will also use the Grade 1 Weekly Readers.

English Language
*First Language Lessons, Wise, J.  Peace Hill Press (2010)
The goals of First Language Lessons for first grade are to listen correctly to spoken language, practicing correctly spoken grammar, reading aloud and narration and to teach beginning skills in grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.

*All About Spelling Level 2, Rippel, M.  All About Learning Press (2010)
Goals for first grade spelling include learning new spelling concepts, reviewing spelling words orally, segmenting words, recognizing and writing phonograms and building words.

*Writing with Ease: Level 1, Wise-Bauer, S.  Peace Hill Press (2008)
*Handwriting without Tears: Printing Power, Olsen, J.Z, (2008)
Writing skills covered in Writing with Ease include copywork, dictation, narration, grammar rules, comprehension exercises, punctuation and vocabulary.  Handwriting without tears is reviews correct printing handwriting as well as punctuation and sentence formation.

*Math U See Alpha, Demme, S.P.  (2004)
*Singapore Math - 1A/1B, Marshall Cavendish (2003)
*Lollipop Logic, Risby, B. Prufrock Press (2005)
The goals of first grade include counting to 100, single digit addition and subtraction, skip counting, telling time, solving for unknown, learning shapes, lengths, weight, analogies, pattern decoding and inference.

US and World History
*A Child’s History of the World, Hillyer, V. Calvert School (1997)
*The Usborne book of World History, Millard, A.  Usborne Publishing (2008)
*History Timeline
*The Usborne Book of Peoples of the World, Trundle, R.  Usborne Publishing (1990)
*The Usborne Time Traveler (1998)
First grade history will begin from creation through the Roman Empire and its fall.  US History will include learning about the presidential election, the US government, the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem.

*Daily Geography Practice - Grade 1- Evan-Moor Press (2004)
The goals of first grade geography include: learning about the world in spatial terms, places and regions, physical systems, human systems, environment and society and the uses of geography.  

*The Usborne Book of Science Activities - Volume 2  (2008)
*How Flowers Grow - Helbrough. E.  (2006)
*Magic School Bus Science Kits
First grade science will include lessons on the growth of flowers, acids & bases, bacteria and fungi, stars and planets, weather and magnets.
In addition, Sofia will be participating in four 4-week classes at the Buffalo Museum of Science with topics covering: Exploring the Living Environment, Investigating the Science of Cooking, Weather around the World & Journey to the Center of the Earth.

*Grossology, Branzei, S.  Price Stern Sloan (2002)
Health education will include good grooming and posture, dental health, healthy habits and lifestyle, exercise and fitness, family life, personal and public safety, accident prevention and diseases.

Physical Education
Formal sports education includes bi-weekly gymnastics lessons at Gymnastics Unlimited (West Seneca, NY), weekly Swim & Gym Class at South Towns YMCA, and indoor and outdoor athletic activities though both neighborhood activities and a local co-op.

*Suzuki Violin School - Volume 1
*I can read Music - a note reading book for Violin Students -Volume 1
Music education includes weekly violin lessons, Shea’s School time series, BPH school time performances and Theater of Youth Performances.

Visual Arts
Visual arts will be taught through various materials in the home and in a homeschool co op.  The goal for first grade will be to visit a local art gallery, to use different mediums to create art and to explore different art styles and periods.

My middle daughter Maya has just turned 4 and boy oh boy does she want to be like her big sister!  She has just started violin lessons and has started the reading program we used for Sofia.  She is so proud to be able to read sat, mat and at!  We have started some handwriting with Maya, basic things like upper and lower case letters.  Her favorite things, however, are mazes and she can fly though mazes for kids aged 5-7!

As for me, there are a few new things that I'm excited to blog stay tuned!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Blessings of Lice

Our family had been off the radar for a good week and a half because of a dreadful head lice infestation.  It had been going around the schools in our area for months now and I just thought we were lucky we homeschooled so that we could dodge the little critters (talking about the lice.)  I spotted it on my eldest Sofia first, but sure enough my middle daughter and I had it as well.  The baby and my husband with a shaved head were the only two to make it out "nit-free."

I'll tell you that this nearly made me lose my mind.  Three girls with long hair getting lice at the same time was overwhelming to me.  But alas, we got through it and we are lice free!  It was funny timing that this happened because I was all set to write my 5 day series on teaching virtues.  What a lesson in virtue training this was!

I also failed miserably on my challenge to quit complaining for 21 days.  I was lucky to have lasted 21 minutes without complaining!  But, I'm back on track again and looking at the bright side of things.  Looking back I can see that, in fact, there were some hidden blessings that came with our bout of lice.
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

My Top Ten Blessings of Having Lice

#10  I learned how to do a wicked head check for lice
       Whenever I used to hear that someone's child I knew had lice I would give a quick glance at my child's hair to check if it had passed to us.  I'd part their hair midway down their head, flip the hair to the left, to the right and done.  What a joke!  Doing a head check means using a proper comb and checking every single section of hair.  The technician at a local lice-center in our area recommends doing an overall head check once every 7-10 days.

#9  I got opportunity after opportunity to practice my virtue of perseverance
      Perseverance is one of those virtues you only get to practice when you are faced with a difficult challenge.  We Choose Virtues, the virtue curriculum we use has the catch phrase "I can do it even if it's tough."  Each one of my girls initially took me two hours to comb out.  By the end of 4 hours of combing, my arms and back ached.  But, I did it.

#8  My children got to see how their parents act under stress
     I won't say that I didn't cry over this.  I did.  A lot.  But I cried at night to my husband.  Mostly because I was so tired and frustrated and sad that I did not have family to help me out.  To my children I held a brave face.  I reminded myself over and over that they were watching me and I tried hard to guard my tongue from harsh words or complaining.  I tried to make the tedious task of combing out bugs from their hair a joyful one.  Combing out each bug has allowed me to perfect the art of forcing a smile when I really wanted to vomit.

#7  Lots and lots of one on one time with the girls
     Before our little lice episode I rarely had time to spend completely one on one with the older girls.  We tuck each girl into bed and they get books but it had been a long time that I had spent HOURS with each one at a time.  Cue 2 hour nit-combing sessions.  When we did a comb out I did it in our bathroom with the door closed so that the other kids would not barge in and make me lose my place.  I turned on a movie (which is a real treat in our home) and we went to work!  The girls actually loved getting their hair brushed out because they got this "royal treatment."  Eventually, we went to a professional place to get our heads checked because I wanted someone else to check our heads to be certain we were clear.  The salon was like a spa with big screen TVs and sparkling water and juice boxes for the kids.  After one treatment the girls actually said "Mom, lets get lice again."  After nearly swerving off the road I made them promise to never say this again.

#6  My daughter doesn't hate brushing her hair anymore
     My eldest daughter used to cry every single time I had to brush her hair.  I have used conditioners, wide tooth combs, combing when wet, combing when dry...nothing seemed to make it better.  Until lice combing with the special lice tool.  You see, when you comb for nits you need to scrape the head and pull up in small sections.  Then, you have to do it in all four directions of the hair shaft.  After doing this on Sofia every day (sometimes twice a day) for a whole week and a half...she thinks getting her hair brushed with a regular comb is like a massage.  Voila, cured!

#5  I saw first hand how close my girls are (literally)
     Between treatments the last thing I wanted was for my girls to have their heads touch each other.  All it would take was one bug to crawl from one girl to the next before the whole mini-nightmare started again.  So, I set out to keep the three of them apart.  I soon found out it was IMPOSSIBLE.  I can't believe how often the three of them have their heads glued together.  They read together, they play house, they hug, they make sister sandwiches...all with their heads together.  This raised my blood pressure at the height of the lice disaster, but now I can look at it as something so sweet.

Can you just see the lice spreading????

#4  The girls' rooms are completely uncluttered
      When you find lice, you have to bag up every stuffed animal in the child's room.  I took this one step further and bagged EVERY stuffed animal, doll, toy, dress up clothes and any odds and ends.  I did this in every room.  I have to say that my girls' rooms are the cleanest they have ever been.  The girls love it too, it takes them seconds to clean their rooms every evening.  Dusting is also a breeze now.

#3  I know my husband loves me...reeeeallly loves me!
      Before I found a local lice center in WNY, I thought that it was going to be up to my husband to comb my hair out for bugs.  Can you see why I cried?  My husband agreed to do it and he did not complain once.  Not once.  It turned out to be a disaster with lice shampoo goop everywhere and the nit comb being stuck in my hair multiple times.  I think I even have a bald spot from him taking the advice to scrape the scalp a little too harshly.  Nevertheless, he tried.  He also took a day off of work to help me with the initial laundry, vacuuming and bagging of toys.

#2  I conquered the chore I despised the most.
     Every Friday I used to cringe at the fact that it was linen laundry day.  I dragged my feet, I stripped the beds while complaining and I worked so slowly at changing loads of laundry that it took me all day.  Now that we have done the whole "wash your bed linen every day" when you have lice routine, I can strip ALL the beds in the house, wash, dry and put them back on the beds by 12:00 PM!  I am so fast at it now that I can do it without even thinking.  The girls even strip their OWN beds now and dump it downstairs over the railing (which they find so fun!)

#1 The lice diet
      For a few weeks I have been battling a few stubborn pounds that I had put on.  One week of stress, multiple loads of laundry a day, anxiety and non stop cleaning melted those pounds away!  Woo hoo!  Note to readers: this was not long lasting, I put it back on while celebrating "We Conquered Lice!"

So, have I got you itching your head yet?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 5: Books and media that inspire virtue

Welcome to the final day of the 5 Days of Virtue Training series! If you didn't catch the earlier posts here they are:

Day 1: Speaking the Language of Virtues

Day 2: How we teach Virtues

Day 3: Training to be a Virtuous Mother

Day 4: Virtue based activities 

I was going to focus today's blog post on specific children's books that demonstrate virtue.  I had a nice little list ready to post and then I changed my mind.

When I really thought about it, there are virtues to be found in almost every story.  The key point that I had mentioned before is that you need to be able to identify them by name.  This way when reading a story to your child you can mention specific things like "Did you notice how perseverant Laura was when she surprised Ma by doing the spring cleaning?"  This is an excellent way for children to learn the names of virtues as well as examples of what they mean.

There are certain books which are filled with children and adults demonstrating their virtues.  One of our favorite series is the Little House series.  Our family listens to them on audiobook and everyone including the 3 year old gets into the stories.  One of many things I love about the series is that the children are so obedient and excited to please their parents.  I really appreciate children's literature where the children speak so nicely to their parents and where parents talk so nicely to each other.  Books like that are not always easy to find.

This brings me to my next point.

Just as important as introducing virtue filled literature to your children is, it is equally important to filter out the junk books and media.  In our home we do not let our children read any "cool" books where kids think their parents are lame or where they are allowed to talk bad about their family. We are also selective on what movies our children can watch.  How can we instill virtues such as "gentleness" when our children are glued to the TV watching people beat each other up?  How can we encourage our children to be "content" when product ads are rampant between every segment of television?

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

I challenge mothers as well to be selective in what we choose to view ourselves!  My husband always jokes that when I lose my patience I should watch re-runs of The Duggars because every time I get to watch Michelle Duggar in action I tend to mimic her gentle demeanor. It is so funny but watching her interact with her children helps me interact with my own.  I come from a family that yelled for everything...this, I know, is not the way I want my own family to act.  I use shows like the Duggars and Little House on the Prairie to give me examples of virtuous behavior.  Behavior I want, but have not grown up with.

The Bible is a wonderful resource we have to teach our children (and ourselves) about virtues in stories.  The Catholic Toolbox has a great list of Bible stories organized by virtues.

Do you have a favorite book for your children that does a great job of teaching virtues?  Leave your answer in the comment section, I'd love some new book recommendations!